The iconic mushroom cloud had been present in games for years but it’s not easy to recreate the world’s most powerful explosion. The epic scale and shockwave followed by a cloud of smoke reaching kilometres into the sky is no easy thing to replicate. Alas only a few games have got it just right, not that any of us have actually seen an actual nuke go off in front of us to compare the gaming versions to. But here are the top ten games that have managed to burn the image of a mushroom cloud into the back of our gaming memories.
10. F22 Lighting 3
Easily the best looking nuke for its time is found in F22 Lighting 3. The reason it was so impressive is the raw scale of the explosion, it was massive! Once you dropped the bomb your F22 could take a very cinematic exit away from the massive shockwave and mushroom cloud that looked very slick.
9. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
The nuke viewed from space in Modern Warfare 2 deserves this spot because of its unique angle. Not only does the nuke look impressive from space, with an accurate explosion-to-land ratio (not that we actually checked that), but the shockwave knocks an astronaut off of a satellite too. Then the sequence switches to a ground view where you can see the nuke’s mushroom cloud and the effects of the electronic interference as choppers rain down around you.
8. Supreme Commander
HUUUGGEEEEEE… The nuke in this game was massive, as you can see from the ridiculous zoomed out shot below. For its time it was very impressive and it still holds up well today. We think we might have to dust this one off again, since our computers can finally run it properly.
The end of F.E.A.R. seemed promising, you emerge from the darkened demon infested corridors to town streets and sunlight. You got a sense that it was all over. Surely the safety of daylight and a public street would mean that your nightmare was over, right? And it was over… for about seven seconds until a nuke was detonated and a wall of fire rolled towards you, bringing with it a face-meltingly awesome ending.
6. Mercenaries 2: World in Flames
The title World in Flames was no joke, in Mercenaries 2 you could call in a nuke to engulf everything from your enemies to a suspicious looking tree in nuclear fire. The nukes packed a punch and looked amazing, and the option to call them in anywhere led to some very memorable scenes (including that one story mission).
The nuke at the end of Crysis looked brilliant due to the CryEngine’s amazing ability to push details to the limits. A mod was soon released for the game that let you shoot mini nukes from a nuke cannon and these looked equally amazing. The ability to launch nukes from something you can carry on your shoulder is an instant win.
4. Fallout 3
A large explosion made up part of a very satisfying ending to one of the best games ever made. The nuke at the end of Fallout 3 was not only beautiful but it was the perfect way to cleanse a very polluted wasteland full of massive ogres and mutants. All the bottle caps in the world didn’t mean jack when this sweet mushroom cloud of destruction was released.
3. Command and Conquer: Generals
Generals gave us a pretty decent depiction of a nuke, but the reason for it being so high up on the list is that it is one of the only nukes to instil fear in the player. Watching the timer tick down in the right hand corner thanks to your nuke-wielding opponent in a multiplayer game was psychologically disturbing. Whatever strategy you had before seeing that timer would change instantly as you would have to take out before it laid waste to your carefully constructed base.
2. World in Conflict
This game almost snagged the first spot as it has to be one of the most accurate and detailed displays of a nuke in a video game. In terms of scale and build up, it’s all perfect. tThe blinding bright light and mushroom cloud are textbook accurate. The only downside being the destruction that was obviously scaled back otherwise the game would end straight away. Being able to rotate 360 degrees around this flaming pyrotechnic is a plus.
1. Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare
The best Call of Duty game of all time also has the best nuke explosion of all time as well. The nuke explosion itself was impressive – but not number 1 spot impressive. What helps Modern Warfare secure the spot is that after the helicopter you’re riding in crashes, the player regains consciousness and is allowed to roam the aftermath of the explosion for a few seconds with his last dying breaths. The nuke and subsequent chopper crash is an amazing piece of gaming that is worthy of the top spot.